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When you are diagnosed with an anaplastic astrocytoma, the initial shock will be difficult for you to comprehend. It is a type of brain cancer and no matter what your oncologist explains to you after the initial bad news, nothing else will resonant and you probably won't be listening to a word they are saying. When you finally process your current status, it is important to realize that there are treatment options possible with this type of cancer. 

An unfortunate thing about brain cancer is that it is one of the more difficult and severe forms of cancer to treat due to the location of the tumor. Thankfully, it is a very rare type of cancer and only affects about 4 in 1,000,000 patients. If you are one of the 4, however, statistics mean absolutely nothing to you. Although this is a serious matter, this is one of the more survivable forms of brain cancer and survival studies indicate that 5 and 10 year survival rates for this form of brain cancer are 24 and 15 percent respectfully. [1]

Early treatment options are associated with better survival rates and there are 3 different methods that could put these cancer cells in check. They include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

In one study, it was determined that surgery and radiation therapy was associated with better survival rates compared to patients who did not have this procedure. In this study, 99 patients with grade 3 anaplastic astrocytomas were analyzed in order to determine if surgery and radiation therapy could make an impact. At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that the average age of survival was seen to be around 19 months. Although this will not be a cure for the disease, unfortunately, having almost another 2 years of time on average of life can make a significant difference in the quality of life of the patients. [2]

In another type of investigation, the effects of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and the combination of both agents was assessed to determine the survival rates of patients with anaplastic astrocytomas. It was determined that when patients just received radiation therapy, their survival rate was around 14 months. Chemotherapy along had a survival rate close to 30 months. When these agents were used in tandem, it was observed that survival rates for patients ballooned to nearly 72 months.  [3]

All in all, it is a very difficult road for patients to follow and tough decisions need to be made. It is important for patients to meet with the appropriate neurosurgeons and oncologist specialists in order to prepare an adequate treatment protocol for the disease. Studies show that surgery to remove the cancer tissue can be beneficial and a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy would be the most effective way at prolonging the life of the patient. It is imperative for patients, family and doctors to meet in these circumstances to determine if the side effects and complications of this type of treatment can help or depress the quality of life of a patient. A longer life does not mean a happier life so it is important that families rally around and support their ill relatives and be a form of support through this difficult time. 

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